FBI reports drop in crime for Chicago, Rockford



WASHINGTON (AP)—Serious crimes reported in Chicago and Rockford, Ill., dropped in the first six months of 1993 compared with the same period in 1992, FBI figures released Sunday show.

But the public wonders whether the streets really are safer, and police concede there is a perception problem.

In Rockford, for example, reports of aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle thefts declined by at least 10 percent from January through June, compared with the first half of 1992. Murders, however, jumped from four in 1992 to 12 this year.

Rockford residents’ perception is that ‘‘they are less safe because of the amount of violence,’‘ Police Chief William T. Fitzpatrick said. ‘‘The reality and the perception don’t match sometimes.’‘

Fitzpatrick said drugs and gangs are the main factors behind the record number of murders this year, 22.

Nationally, violent crimes during the first six months of 1993 fell 3 percent from the same period in 1992, while the number of property crimes dropped by 5 percent, according to preliminary findings of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.

The figures released Sunday cover cities with populations of more than 100,000. Figures for Peoria and Springfield, the state’s two other cities with 100,000 or more people, were not available.

Last month, Congress, pushed by public fear of crime, voted for harsher penalties and billions of dollars to put more police on the beat.

‘‘The small reported declines may be positive, but I doubt most Americans will draw much comfort from them because the levels of violent crime and drug trafficking remain so staggering,’‘ FBI Director Louis J. Freeh said in a statement.

The FBI figures, based on report filed by local departments, showed Chicago ranked third in murders in the first six months of 1993 with 373—behind New York (937) and Los Angeles (532).

But Chicago’s total was down from 441 in 1992. Also declining were robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and vehicle theft. Larceny remained about the same.

Maggie Schumacher, who lives on the city’s southwest side, does not perceive Chicago as a safer city in 1993.

‘‘There’s been more shootings … it’s just really escalating, especially in the past year,’‘ she said about her neighborhood.

‘‘I really feel like there are more young people armed and they’re just really violence nowadays and yes, that makes me feel a lot more fearful.’‘

Schumacher serves on the board of the Southwest Parish and Neighborhood Federation and is on a federation anti-crime committee. She thinks more police are needed to patrol the streets.

‘‘It doesn’t matter that violent crime on the whole is trending downward, because people feel less safe,’‘ Chicago Police Department spokesman William Davis said.

One way to address that problem is community policing, he said.

In Rockford, the chief credited that kind of patrol and a more active role by neighborhood watches in helping reduce crime.

‘‘We’re only as good as the community we protect,’‘ Fitzpatrick said.